Leading by Learning
from Our Differences
By Sofia Santos
Managing Director of Consumer & Small,
Business Strategy and Business Intelligence,
Bank of America
Being a Latina and having lived in several different countries
has afforded me the ability to experience a lot of different
perspectives in both my personal and professional life. In
particular, as I did not come exactly from the typical American schools and
background as my peers or clients, I always felt the need to prove
myself. At times, I felt overshadowed by the typical stereotypes of a
successful person and I felt I had to be better prepared than anyone else
to make myself heard. This perspective helped me learn how to be
confident in expressing my opinions and thoughts and, along with my
prior experiences and culture, became an asset that has allowed me to
become a better leader today.
It was important for me to join a company where leadership values
everyone’s differences and embraces learning and growing from those
differences. Diversity helps bring in new ideas which leads to better
problem solving and decision making and can lead to a more creative
environment. But diversity without inclusion does not work, you need to feel
you can come to work and not be afraid to be your full self– bringing your
identity, background, and experiences to bear. Joining Bank of America
was a great fit for me. Not only does the company celebrate and invest
in diversity from an ethnic perspective but it is also a leader when it
comes to investing in women in their workplace; employing a number of
strong female leaders and offering career development opportunities,
benefits and programs specific to helping women achieve economic
I’ve been able to share and use my cultural experiences to encourage
my team and other leaders in the organization to give consideration to all
perspectives when working through problems or discussing ideas for new
solutions. This is crucial for my role today leading Consumer & Small
Business Strategy and Business Intelligence. It’s important to be able to
get a view into what is happening in multiple markets and to listen and
learn about what the needs are for the variety of customers we serve.
As a leader in the midst of a pandemic, I can really appreciate how
diversity can help. Being a woman and mother, I have been challenged
by bearing the brunt of virtual school with my three kids where each has
had different reactions to the current situation all while continuing to
balance the responsibilities of work. This experience has given me
insight into challenges my colleagues and teammates may be facing.
Relating to what others may be dealing with and learning how each
person may respond to the same situation differently, gives me the
opportunity to help my teammates feel supported and successful during
these challenging times.
As I look towards the future, I see diversity and inclusion being
essential to growing ourselves and our communities and there is still
more we can do. I am proud to be a part of a company where I can play
an active role in advancing diversity and inclusion efforts and where I can
contribute in an environment where my differences are celebrated.
I feel proud and humbled to receive this recognition from LATINA
Style. It reinforces my commitment to further advance the career path
for other Latinas at Bank of America.
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52 www.latinastyle.com LATINAStyle V ol. 26, No. 4, 2020